THE LOOP — Ride-sharing drivers and a prominent constitutional law firm have joined the lawsuit taxi companies filed against the city seeking to rein in the upstart services.
Three ride-sharing drivers for Lyft, UberX and Sidecar joined in a motion to intervene in the suit filed Tuesday by lawyers for the Institute for Justice.
"We are intervenor defendants on the side of the city, but, of course, with our own interests," said Anthony Sanders, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.
The suit filed by cab companies asks that the city enforce its own taxi regulations against ride-sharing services. The motion to intervene, Sanders said, would eventually lead to a motion to dismiss the suit on behalf of the ride-sharing drivers.
Sanders said the institute joined a similar suit in Minneapolis and had it dismissed.
"This lawsuit will also be thrown out," he said Tuesday in a news conference at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.
"There is no constitutional right to be freed from competition," Sanders added, calling the city's taxi regulations "antiquated" and "anti-competitive."
"Sharing is not a crime," said Dan Burgess, a driver for Lyft, UberX and Sidecar who joined in filing the motion to intervene.
Taxi firms and cabbies have argued ride-sharing services do not compete under the same requirements, such as fare regulations and the demand to serve all areas of the city and all customers, including disabled riders. They've also said the unfair competition undercuts the value of taxi medallions, which typically have been auctioned at a starting bid of $360,000.
"The argument that you've invested money in a medallion, so therefore the city can't allow ride sharing because the value of medallions goes down ... will never work in a court of law," Sanders said.
The Illinois Transportation Trade Association issued a statement in response to the motion saying: "The taxi drivers and owners in Chicago welcome competition and innovation. This lawsuit has always been about safe and equal rides for everyone in Chicago and a level playing field for all transportation companies who serve the public. Instead of addressing these concerns head-on, the parties in this motion admit that they’re operating illegally, but that it somehow shouldn’t matter because they’re providing a 'new' service. Innovation does not justify compromising public safety."
Taxi proponents have also argued ride-sharing drivers are not properly insured. Ride-sharing driver Dustin Morby, who was one of the three joining in the suit, said Uber insured drivers with a $1 million policy.
According to Sanders' legal colleague Renee Flaherty, the institute's mission is "to restore constitutional limits on government power." The institute has previously filed suit against the city in defense of food trucks; that suit is still pending.
Ted Liu was the other driver joining in the motion to intervene.